Posts Tagged ‘Scotland



A visit to the Northern Highlands is just not the same without a sighting of a Pine Marten. We saw two a couple of weeks ago in Scotland including this beautiful female.


A Long Tail

One of the delights of Northern Scotland in the Winter months are the wildfowl at sea. Long tailed Ducks are just the biz!


A Waxed Wing

At the time of writing the influx of Waxwings that have invaded Scotland have not yet encroached in any number further South. Maybe the Northerlies forecast for the coming weekend will rectify that.

When we were on the North coast of Scotland last week, we came across a wonderful flock visiting berried bushes. Among them was a surprise male Blackcap and an even bigger surprise, a lumbering Northern Bullfinch. These bullfinches have a silver mantle and a trumpet like call. However, it was its size that took me quite aback. It was approaching the size of the Waxwings.



When we visit Scotland in April we do so because that is the optimum time to see a range of species. Some species are easier to see than others at this time. Crested Tits are quite hard as many birds are ‘sitting on eggs’.

When we visited Scotland last week Tania and I found these endearing little ‘cresties’ at each site we visited. Much commoner and easier to see than in April!


Les Oiseaux d’Ore

So … someone said she wanted a Golden Eagle for her birthday. Who am I to say no?

Golden Eagles are never easy on mainland Britain. I set expectations low. Who knew I was with an Eagle Whisperer? Three birds of various ages joined the four Buzzards and thirteen Ravens around the corpse of a Red Deer within 20 minutes. Job done.


For the love of Dolphins

Sailing through the Summer Isles off Ullapool last month we were on a glass mirror sea passing rocky outcrops punctuated with Arctic Terns. Young were pestering parents for their next meal … nothing in nature varies in that respect. As we pulled into a sea cave a Common Sandpiper fell from one of the ledges and proclaimed its objections to us being there with a diagnostic call and fluttering flight.

Moving further out from the coast the skipper sighted dolphins ahead. It wasn’t long before we were surrounded by playful, accommodating and very very beautiful Common Dolphins.

They are not there, then they are, then they are gone again. They bow ride and leap from the water. They watch you from under crystal clear water as they swim alongside. There’s something quite enigmatic and mysterious about Common Dolphins. I just love them.



Despite the massive reduction of Bonxies (up to 80%) we found a bathing group of Great Skuas this week in the heights of Scotland. Twenty-two birds eventually came together in a small lochan for a wash and brush up. The sighting prompted us to ponder what the collective noun should be for a group of skuas. We came up with ‘An attack’ of skuas.

I was in conversation with Simon Barnes about his wife’s lovely art installation at Cley. Cindy is very talented, if you are around please go and see it first-hand. I mentioned the sighting of the skuas to Simon and he said the following: ‘Surely an assault of bonxies. More violent and a punning hint of their environment’

What do you think?



When my daughter came down to Norfolk last month we took her up onto the local heath to show her adders. During the time we were looking I hung up a pheromone to attract an Emperor Moth. I placed it on the front of the vehicle but nothing came to the lure.

Later that week I took a group to Scotland. One of the regular places we visit for various birds is the head of the Findhorn Valley. A wonderfully evocative place of steep valley sides and craggy mountains.

We’d not been there longer than 30 minutes when an Emperor Moth started flirting with the front of the vehicle. Given the car had been washed since the beginning of the week and the lure was over 5 years old I was amazed. I still had the lure in the car. When I opened it up we had five or six of these beautiful moths flying around. Before we knew where we were we were surrounded by photographers! One landed and I managed to get a shot of it.


Brows and blows

After a busy few months Tania and I wanted to get away for a few days. So we made a plan. First stop Bempton to see the Black-browed Albatross. I’d seen the Sula Sgeir bird a decade or more ago but how could you say no to an Albatross in British waters. You just ‘have’ to go and see it. They are the bees knees of seabirds. A thought not shared by the Gannets who didn’t take to their larger cousin at all. He ousted a few off the cliffs to crash land among them. Tania had great views of the bird as she looked down on the bird circling below her.

First part of the plan completed we thought we’d carry on North and visit Kinghorn. Now this is the second time this year I’ve called at this pretty village just over the Forth from Edinburgh. I paid a visit at the end of May. The idea then was to see if the guests on the UK Mammal Tour could add Sei Whale to their lists. Despite it’s rarity in UK waters there had been one kicking around in the Firth of Forth for a few weeks. Sadly it wasn’t to be as the whale didn’t play ball. However, Tania and I thought it would be worth a revisit this week as the Sei Whale was still being seen with some regularity. It took some time, but eventually the third largest animal on the planet graced us with a ‘swim-past’. In fact two; once going up river and then a second as it returned East. Thanks to Ronnie Mackie for his invaluable help and great company in seeking out this addition to our British mammal list. The last time I saw one of these creatures it was amid the clear waters of a Chilean Fjord on the day Tania and I first met; a long way from a small seaside town on the East coast of Scotland.


A February Tour

Please take a look at the link it’s a good value excellent tour –

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Mar 2023


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